by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In late August, the veteran Democratic pollster, Peter Hart, held a focus group in Pittsburgh. He invited 12 local people, six of whom had voted for Hillary Clinton, one of whom voted for the far-left candidate Jill Stein, and five of whom voted for Donald Trump.
The Clinton voters, not to mention the lone Stein supporter, were unhappy with President Trump’s performance in office. Asked for a brief description of him, they offered answers such as “unfit,” “crazy,” and “contemptible.” The Trump voters weren’t particularly happy either, although they used words such as “disappointment” to describe the man they supported.
What was remarkable about everyone’s reservations about Trump was the degree to which they focused on the president’s tone, on his style, on the things he said, rather than his policy. …
… That is the Trump phenomenon. He is a president stuck below 40 percent job approval at a time of rising economic growth, swelling consumer optimism, and a roaring stock market. Despite all the good news, even some of his supporters, the ones who cheer on his actions on deregulation, judicial nominations, border security and more, have reservations about him. Tony, a Trump voter in his 50s who described himself as a Republican-leaning independent, summed up their feelings in an almost poignant way. “What most disappoints me is he’s such an incredibly flawed individual who’s articulated many of the values I hold near and dear,” Tony told Hart. “The messenger has overwhelmed the message.”